This is one of many short video segments which will be added to the Digital Tipping Point (DTP) archive.
This series of 5 segments features Linux systems administrator Christa Casebeer, in an interview shot at Linux World Expo 2008 in San Francisco. She is also an Internet personality who podcasts and blogs as Linuxchic at Alternageek.com, along with her business partner Joel Trigger, who blogs as TechMonkey. This series of segments is fascinating because Christa's job takes her close to a population of early adopters. It is a prime chance to see first hand from Christa's experience one way that GNU-Linux is creeping into mainstream society. This is Take One, which is more in-depth than Take Two.
In particular, it is fascinating to see that Christa's experience seems to bear out the theory of Harvard Business Professor Clayton Christensen, who said that disruptive innovations (like GNU-Linux) tend to creep into the mainstream market through "overshot customers" meaning, computer users who don't need all of the functionality that market leader Microsoft has to offer with its products. Instead, the people who are adopting GNU-Linux are happy with basic web-browsing, emailing, and they want cheap, light-weight, low-maintenance machines like the Asus EEE-PC.
This interview was shot at the Installfest for Schools exhibit at Linux World Expo where Christa and Joel Trigger were installing Ubuntu GNU-Linux on computers to be given out at schools world-wide. This exhibit was really popular, and so you will see people crowding around behind Christa as they worked on the machines behind her.
In segment 01, Christa says that she has been a systems administrator for 12 years. The last 10 of those years have seen her move over from Windows to Linux. She started work in the computer industry when she was 18. Her first computer was a Commodore 64, when she was six. She tells us what a sys admin does for a living. Then she says that use of Linux and Mac machines (which she calls "nix" machines) is growing. The sys admins at the college where she works, the Johnson Community College in Kansas City Missouri, currently tend to prefer Red Hat GNU-Linux. There are 30,000 students at that college. There are 3,000 to 5,000 desktops facing end users like students, of which 2% are Linux, although that number sometimes gets larger, because the sys admins sometimes install Linux on lab machines for educational purposes. At this point, one quarter of the help desk calls are for help with GNU-Linux machines!
In segment 02, Christa repeats again that about 25% of all help desk calls are for Linux, which is a dramatic number. It's a mini digital tipping point. She is not surprised that her end users are more ready adopters of Free Open Source Software, because people in an educational environment are more willing to experiment. Firefox is becoming the help desk's solution to problems with Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE). The help desk personnel recomend that the end users downloads Firefox, and that usually solves the problem with IE. GNU-Linux is becoming popular because students want cheap, light, low maintenance computers, as do the faculty, and the facutly also want more control which they get with GNU-Linux. She estimates that 15% to 25% of students use Linux. Most of these users are ordinary users, such as culinary students, not computer science students, as in the past. Free Open Source Software will creep in on low-end desktops and mobile platforms. Students will emerge into the work world using Linux, and will request Linux at work, as that is what they will be more familiar with.
In segment 03, Christa says that corporations will be slower to move off of Microsoft Windows, but events like Gartner's public disaffection with Microsoft Windows will be noticed in corporations and could accelerate adoption. The consumer market could move to GNU-Linux faster, because big box stores like Best Buy and Walmart are making Linux readily available there. Christa thinks that Linux will have at least 50% of the home market in 5 years (2013, since this clip was shot in 2008). The obstacles to adoption include a lack of education about using alternatives to Microsoft products.
In segment 04, Christa says that she thinks that the obstacles to Linux migration will be overcome, in part, by the mainstream media catching on to Linux. Also, grassroots efforts by members of Linux User Groups will help. She says that computer-savvy people should stop giving their parents Microsoft Windows. She also thinks that community colleges should offer courses in teaching GNU-Linux, and people should volunteer to teach those classes. Dell and other commercial vendors should also advertise their GNU-Linux offerings more heavily.
In segment 05, she says that the EEE PC is almost common at her school! She says that young gadget seekers get them in Walmart and other big box stores. Young people want sexy customizable machines, so the Asus EEE PC should come with skins. Everyone in her family uses GNU-Linux.
Christa uses the name "Linuxchic" on line, hence its inclusion in our tags below. You can find Christa by going to Alternageek.com.
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